KATHMANDU, Dec 21: The headquarters of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) at Dhumbarahi in the capital are housed illegally in a building owned by the Pasang Lhamu Mountaineering Foundation.
It is against the existing laws to establish the offices of a political party on government-owned premises or premises given by the government for the exclusive use of a foundation.
The government in 2063 BS provided 4 ropani 5 ana of land to the Pasang Lhamu Foundation for its own use. The foundation was established by the family of the late Aang Chhiring Sherpa, who died in a helicopter accident in February, in memory of the first Nepali woman to top Mount Everest, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa. She was the sister-in-law of the late Sherpa.
Clause 21 of the Political Parties Related Act 2073 BS clearly states that political parties cannot take over or use public or community-owned property. “This is a blatant violation of the rules governing such land. It is illegal,” argued advocate Om Prakash Aryal. Such property cannot be used for any purpose other than the originally stated one,” he said.
After the mega earthquake of 2015 damaged its HQ premises at Balkhu, the erstwhile CPN-UML moved to the foundation-owned property at Dhumbarahi.
Bhadra Parajuli, an employee with the foundation, informed that they have rented the property to the NCP for Rs 200,000 a month. He also informed that the rent tenure was extended for three years after the initial three-year tenure expired in 2018.
The executive committee of the foundation had earlier paved the way for renting the property to the NCP, informed Parajuli, adding that the tenure would be extended as needed.
According to documents at the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation, the foundation building stands in Ward-4 of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and occupies five different plots (kitta), i.e. 74, 96, 98, 159 and 206.
The property should automatically revert to the government if the initial terms and conditions governing its use are changed, argued advocate Aryal,
“It should have been leased on a competitive basis,” he said. It appears that the foundation has illegally rented out the property.
The transfer of property is unlawful as it has not been leased on a competitive basis, claimed Janak Raj Joshi, spokesperson of the ministry.
The Policy on Land Registration and Lease 2071 BS clearly mentions that land under “Bhogadhikar” (i.e. use) should have been transferred into “leased land” after the policy came into effect. It says that “Individuals or institutions should apply to change the land title from “Bhogadhikar” to leased. If they fail to apply, the right of “Bhogadhikar” would come to an end, paving the way for the government to appropriate the land.
The Department of Land Management issued a public notice in 2074 BS, asking individuals and institutions concerned to apply for change of title from “Bhogadhikar” to leased wherever applicable.
However, the Pasang Lhamu Foundation chose to turn a deaf ear to the government’s notice, banking on its excellent relations with the current government. The authorities were loathe to “seize” the land as per the newly-enacted provision. The family of the late Sherpa, who was an aviation and hospitably tycoon, had cultivated close personnel ties with Prime Minister KP Oli over the years.
Officials at the Land Revenue Office, Dillibazar find themselves in an unenviable situation. “How can we proceed against the clear interests of the chief of the ruling party,” they say.
President of the foundation Kripasur Sherpa was appointed minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation in 2072 BS in the Sushil Koirala government upon Oli’s recommendation.
The Sherpa-owned Yeti Holdings had benefited from the ministerial position, according to Aryal.
Ministry of Tourism officials said they managed to have a cabinet decision taken allowing private parties to manage mountains of less than 5,500 meters.
Current president of the foundation Dawa Futti was appointed ambassador to Spain earlier this year. She is the niece of the late Aang Chhiring Sherpa and daughter of Lakpa Sonam, chairman of Yeti Holdings.